Garden Photo of the Day

A Bit of Arizona in the Netherlands

Bringing desert drama to a cool, wet climate

My name is Alice Fleurkens. Imagine my amazement when I visited my brother-in-law’s house in the Netherlands and discovered that he had turned his very tiny backyard into an Arizona oasis. He had been there and loved that landscape so much that he decided he wanted it for his backyard.

Gravel mulch and plants that look like they would be at home in a much warmer climate create the illusion of Arizona in the Netherlands. The climates of the two locations could hardly be more different, with much of the Netherlands getting more than three times as much rain as Phoenix, Arizona, and the usual weather in the Netherlands being cool and cloudy rather than sunny and dry. But with careful design and plant choices, you can mimic the look of just about any climate, no matter where you garden. Potted palms add to the effect, and, of course, can be moved to sheltered spots to overwinter.

Yucca rostrataHuge yucca plants give a desert look, but they can adapt to many climates. The large one in the center looks to be Yucca rostrata, which is hardy to Zone 5, provided it has good drainage, and will develop a tall trunk over time.

This huge palm tree is probably Trachycarpus fortunei, which is one of the most cold-hardy palm trees and will thrive even in climates with cool summers, like that of the Netherlands. It is hardy to Zone 7.

More yuccas and an adobe wall complete the illusion of a garden in the southwestern United States.

A wonderful little spot to sit and enjoy this desert garden in a cool, wet place.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/29/2020

    My goodness! How amazing!

  2. btucker9675 01/29/2020

    So creative! Love that he took inspiration from a trip and brought it home with him. Must be a delightful surprise for first time visitors to his home.

  3. stewpot 01/29/2020

    Creative - looks just like AZ. Good job!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/29/2020

    What a super successful project on your brother-in-law's part. He really accomplished his goal of creating a personal landscape that gives off an AZ vibe. It's really quite remarkable and my kudos to his commitment and creativity.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 01/29/2020

    I've been to the Netherlands and I never would have guessed that this garden is there!
    It's really beautiful, and a nice choice of plants!

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